Fitness gurus and amateurs alike will tell you: When working out, it’s important to have a yin to your yang.
In other words, it’s easy to focus on your preferred method of keeping fit and unintentionally neglect other muscle groups. For people who prefer to workout outside, that’s where personal training and semi-private fitness sessions get a leg up on the competition. Smaller class sizes have the potential to attract people of all fitness levels, as the instructor works specifically with you to ensure that you’re getting the most out of the class.
Having a healthy balance of workout sessions is key for Shonda Bradford, a fitness guru who has brought her signature Bradford Method workout from the city to East Hampton for the summer. Shonda is a former dance and pilates instructor, and her classes are a blend of her background and new technology—specifically a Garuda machine.
“[The Garuda was] the answer to everything I was looking for,” says Shonda, who has four of the machines. “It allows me to create new choreography.” Designed by James D’Silva, the apparatus incorporates a split platform, chair attachment, pulleys, ropes, bars and straps to allow for an almost infinite range of motions for a Pilates-type class. Shonda is the only instructor in the U.S. with a Garuda, and she shared that the instructor in Canada who owns one came to her New York studio to try hers prior to making the purchase.
“It’s about incorporating your entire body through every movement and (involving) all of your muscles all of the time,” says Shonda of The Bradford Method. Shonda’s celebrity clientele list is extensive, proof that she is adept at toning all types of bodies.
I attended a media day at the new Gingerbread Lane, East Hampton location of The Bradford Method, slightly intimidated by the length of time I would be spending working out. Turns out there was no reason for premeditated fears. The 75-minute semi-private class will make you sweat, but Shonda is an approachable instructor, and her sessions are definitely not intimidating. All she asks is for a “positive attitude,” “willingness to learn and try new things,” and refreshing qualities like respect and a sense of humor.
“The workout is about the physical and the mental,” says Shonda.
A definite perk of using the Garuda is that it holds you in a position, allowing your mind to be free from thoughts of “Am I doing this correctly?” Coupled with Shonda’s instruction and personalized attention to each student, working out on a Garuda almost guarantees that you will be doing all of your poses correctly. You always reap the full strength and stretch award of class.
After our Garuda workout, we took a quick (and necessary) water break before trying out the trampoline class, a.k.a. “Barre Class with a Bounce.” For people who haven’t taken a trampoline class before, I highly recommend, as they’re just plain fun. Giggling while warming up is both common and, particularly in Shonda’s class, encouraged. With ballet influences, the class allows students to sculpt their muscles while getting their heart rate up. Class comes with pump up tunes, perfect for bouncing and—bonus—learning to keep rhythm. Stretching is incorporated throughout the class, allowing you to feel both the burn of the workout and the refreshing sensation of being balanced. Case in point: I ran a race two days after my workout and was not epically sore, a problem I’ve had in the past after taking a challenging class.
This summer, Shonda will offer 75 minutes semi-private sessions, which will encompass comprehensive workouts that incorporate the Garuda, the Bands Box and Cardio Jump Board. Workouts will build on each other, as a new challenge will be incorporated every two weeks. Private, one-on-one training is also available. To book classes online, visit bradfordmethod.com. While you’re there, check out the workout of the week mailing list, which is free to sign up.
The Bradford Method studio is located at 58 Gingerbread Lane, East Hampton and is open seven days, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.